A little pet maintenance can go a long way. Here, our pet experts offer tips for keeping your animal companion happy and healthy.
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Follow these steps for a thorough washing. Shampoo should be specific for the animal you're washing and low-foaming so it rinses away easily and does not strip nutrients from coat.
- Use washcloth to wet pets's face.
- Use hose or pitcher to wet rest of pet with warm water.
- Start shampooing at face and work your way to tail.
- Let shampoo set for several minutes.
- Use washcloth to rinse shampoo from face.
- Use hose or pitcher to thoroughly rinse rest of pet.
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To have your pet enjoy being brushed, make sure you use a comb or brush with rotating, wide Teflon-coated teeth. To groom sensitive areas, such as the face, ears, and throat, use a fine-tooth comb. These tools will allow you to glide through the cat's hair without any painful tugging.
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For a nontoxic approach to fighting fleas, wash your pet and his bedding weekly, and use the flea comb daily. Kill the fleas that come off your animal's coat by dipping them into soapy water. Vacuuming daily can be a big help, but you must discard the vacuum bag to keep the fleas from escaping. Most experts recommend sealing it with tape and wrapping in a plastic bag, or burning it.
Photography: Isabelle Francais/The American Kennel Club, Inc.4 of 11
Grooming Wrinkly Dogs
Dogs like bulldogs who have loose, folded skin require special attention when grooming. "The more you groom the less often they will need a bath," says AKC expert Lisa Peterson.
- Finish up with some baby wipes, cleaning between the wrinkles and drying them well.
- For those tough places between deep wrinkles that always seem to get a tad stinky try rubbing occasionally with a thin layer of Bag Balm, Vaseline or Horseman's Dream to repel moisture.
- Hand dry with fresh towels and use cotton balls to dry out those little pockets of skin around the tail and head that may not dry completely on their own.
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Teaching a pet to let you brush their teeth requires patience. Start by using your finger without any toothpaste and get your dog used to the idea of someone lifting their lips, rubbing their teeth and general mouth handling, says AKC expert Lisa Peterson. "Pretend your finger is the toothbrush and go through the motions of brushing the teeth, paying particular attention to the gum line, where tartar builds up. Start slowly with maybe just a few seconds, gradually increasing the time you spend in the dog's mouth."
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Photography: Mary Bloom/The American Kennel Club, Inc.6 of 11
Tomato juice may mask the odor of a skunk spray, but it doesn't eliminate it. AKC expert Lisa Peterson recommends a homemade concoction of baking soda, mild dishwashing detergent and a 3-percent hydrogen peroxide solution. Click on the link below for specific instructions.
Photography: Mary Bloom/The American Kennel Club, Inc.7 of 11
Handling Dry Skin
If your dog has a case of cold-weather dry skin, she may simply need regular brushing to stimulate oil glands and remove shedded fur. Click on the link below for detailed brushing tips and techniques.
Another option for dry skin: Add a touch of fish oil with Omega 3 and 6 to your dog's diet.
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As cats live longer these days, they may be outliving their teeth, says pet expert Marc Morrone. Look for warning signs that something might be wrong with your cat's teeth: If your cat has discoloration of teeth and tartar or bad breath, or drools, fails to groom itself, changes eating or chewing habits, paws at its face or mouth, or exhibits signs of depression, it may be experiencing tooth trouble. For details on cleaning your cat's teeth, click on the link below.
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To clip a cat's nails, use a stainless steel scissor-like nail cutter, and try to trim the nails before you give the cat a bath. Get your kitten used to nail trimming at an early age, so you won't have problems trimming its nails as an adult. To trim an adult cat's nails, start with two or three, and see how your cat fares. If your cat decides it's had enough, stop there and resume nail trimming at a later time.
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Calmer Bath Time
Getting your dog to tolerate -- and even enjoy -- bath time requires patience, says AKC expert Lisa Peterson. Try these tips over several weeks:
- Walk your dog around the house with his leash to disassociate the leash from bathing.
- Sit on the floor of the bathroom (door closed) and play with your dog, then get up and leave without over-reacting.
- A few weeks in, pick him up and put him in the tub and hold him there for a few seconds. If you notice he relaxes, such as letting out a big sigh, then praise, give a treat and take him out.
- After a few sessions, add water.
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Photography: Mary Bloom/The American Kennel Club, Inc.11 of 11
Double-Coated Dog Breeds
Double-coated dog breeds include most of the herding and working breeds, as well as many of the sporting dogs. These dogs have an outer coat of medium length, lying flat or wavy. The undercoat is softer and shorter than the outer coat. When hair is trimmed or cut with a clipper, it tends to change the way the hair grows in or lies on the coat.You may see a difference in the density of the coat during shedding, warmer seasons, or possible heavy handed trimming by the groomer.
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